Since October 2008, buying cannabis in Canada has been fraught with challenges for both businesses and buyers.
Nearly two years post-legalization, the most recent numbers from Stats Canada suggest that just under 30 per cent of the country’s consumers are buying all of their cannabis products from a licensed source.
While Canadians’ support for cannabis legalization has been overwhelming, would-be legal consumers often face hurdles, such as limited store hours or shipping delays, that dampen the enthusiasm for regulated products.
Despite the dire-sounding statistics, as the retail landscape—and consumers’ tastes—continue to evolve, the future of purchasing cannabis is gradually becoming clearer.
The current challenges of cannabis retail provide the industry with an opportunity to positively shape the purchasing experience of tomorrow—especially outside of the dispensary.
The future of purchasing cannabis is fast approaching. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect in the years ahead.
The future is comfortable
Clients often reminisce back to the days of pre-legalization where simply texting for an order was the primary means of attaining product for the average cannabis lover. Those who continue to buy grey-market products often cite a similar fondness for making their bud-related buys through a few taps on a phone screen.
There is value in nostalgia, and the industry would be wise to take note.
Offering purchasing methods that feel comfortable and familiar can offer licensed enterprises a huge advantage with regards to converting long-time consumers to the legal market and offering a smoother transition that’s equally simple.
The future is convenient
The biggest challenge facing most e-commerce is abandoned shopping carts and the dire ‘please buy something’ marketing discounts don’t help.
In the face of an internet littered with unpurchased items added to forgotten carts or floating in wish-list limbo, a successful cannabis sales formula removes many of the obstacles that often deter or distract users from completing the steps to finalize an online purchase.
Cannabis consumers who can’t or don’t want to visit a dispensary need simple methods of purchasing products that are hassle-free and don’t require multiple steps or repetition. The sales platforms that create an intuitive, streamlined means of buying legal cannabis are those that will prove to be the market leaders of the near future.
The future fosters a connection
Sparking consumer interest can present its own set of challenges. Touted as one of the primary goals of federal legalization, luring consumers away from the illicit market has proved to be a hard-wrought battle for the legal cannabis industry—especially given the restrictions on marketing and promotion.
A successful cannabis sales model will get creative and facilitate a meaningful relationship between consumers and brands, and do so within the regulatory framework that is currently in place.
The future is curated
The sheer variety of cannabis products available in the legal market can be overwhelming to newcomers and long-time users alike, even more so if clients are not making their purchase in a dispensary with the help of a bud expert.
Providing curated product offerings and thoughtful suggestions can allow consumers to sample an array of products and discover new favourites that they’ll want to purchase again and again.
The future is authentic
Now and in the future, the preferred way to buy cannabis for Canadians will be contingent on a key element: trust.
While building robust platforms that make cannabis accessible to all consumers of legal age is critical for the industry to thrive, building customers’ confidence is necessary for it to survive.
No matter how Canadians source their products, they need to trust that source and feel confident that they are giving their business to an authentic platform run by people passionate about cannabis.
Ultimately, the goal is to help consumers discover great products and let them build the connection they want with the brands that mean something to them. If the industry succeeds in making this a reality, the future of purchasing cannabis is bright for Canadian consumers and businesses alike.
Canadians have made it clear that they want to buy cannabis through safe, easy channels that render products more accessible, require minimal effort and with little to no learning curve. They want to buy products with which they feel a personal connection, they want guidance when selecting and sampling products and they want a legal source that they can trust to steer them towards those that will provide them with the best possible experience—one they’ll want to repeat.
When it comes to making this future a reality, there’s no reason for the industry—or consumers—to wait any longer.
The future of buying cannabis in Canada is now.
Jeremy Potvin is founder and CEO of Weedbox Inc., the parent company of SMS-based e-commerce platform, TokeText.